Beşiktaş coach Şenol Güneş is not the same coach who made Beşiktaş champions last year in Turkish Super League. His idealistic and bold moves were the basis that carried Beşiktaş to the trophy, and his rational and contemporary approach to extremely physical and chaotic Turkish football was his defining characteristic. Nevertheless, as pressure intensified in the Champions League, given that games are played at almost double speed and the quality is considerably higher, Güneş slowly started to withdraw from his bold decisions one by one. The team is playing a much more conservative and defensive game than what they used to play, and this new approach made its peak this Saturday in the Super League before the Napoli game on Wednesday.
Kayserispor, a relatively weak Anatolian side, was definitely not the team you would expect to force Beşiktaş to play this defensive game, and they did not. The Anatolian side chose a basic counter-attacking strategy, which is understandable given Beşiktaş is one of the strongest teams in the league, but strangely they found an even more defensive opponent against them. Beşiktaş coach Şenol Güneş put three defensive midfielders against Kayserispor, which was as surreal as contemporary China building another Great Wall against Mongolia. Tolgay Arslan, Atiba Hutchinson and Necip Uysal made up an extremely dull and defensive midfield line for Beşiktaş, and offensive waves were never sustainable due to their lack of participation in offenses.
Furthermore, these three defensive midfielders were positioned too deep into Beşiktaş's half and they did not let defenders to participate in offenses either. Defenders were on the penalty box line and the defensive midfielders were just in front of them. Thus, a huge space between this giant defensive line and the only player responsible for creating offensive waves, Anderson Talisca, was gifted to Kayserispor by Beşiktaş. Fortunately for them, their opponent also had no intention to utilize this huge gap and both teams bypassed the midfield without challenging their opponent's game by pressing or using that to maintain possession.
However, as the side who was expected to win, Beşiktaş struggled in this defensive manner more than their opponent and as time passed more chaos and unpredictability surrounded the game. Coach Güneş, who started the game with two strikers and one playmaker, did not change his strategy despite Beşiktaş's failure in the first half. He basically changed players to create more individual talent and stamina in the same strategy, and even though Beşiktaş won the game with a hilarious goal, it could have been a Kayserispor win easily, as Beşiktaş gave away many opportunities.
I believe this game and Beşiktaş's strategy was not a coincidental one, and it was not done out of incapability before a crucial Champions League game, but it was done on purpose to change Beşiktaş's paradigm. If Beşiktaş is going to play like this for the rest of the season, Güneş must create a reasonable solution for the offensive dullness. Neither the Champions League nor the Super League can accept such a game, except in some rare cases. Added to that, Güneş should create his strategy for the usual games which are ten times more than the exceptional ones. If Beşiktaş can play domination football in most Champions League games, serious success can be achieved.